Björk interviewed by SvD Journalist Kristin Lundell
Björk is in Stockholm to receive the Polar Prize.
Published in Svenska Dagbladet 27. August 2010
Version in Swedish
You usually decline most awards you are offered - did you consider declining the Polar Prize as well?
My manager said this one was too much of an honor to turn down and that humbled me. I didnt really know it existed before, then I looked at the list of the people that got them before me and I have to admit it tickled my vanity... made me very proud ! I am kinda terrified of award shows though, I'm really bad at doing small talk with strangers. I thought those skills would develop as I got older but no luck.
What is your relationship with Abba?
Abba was one of the very few bands everyone in The Sugarcubes liked. We used to listen to them before we got on stage. Abba were massive in Iceland – bigger than The Beatles.
You have said that you are terrified of repeating yourself. Why is that?
Not sure. Boredom? Or maybe a low attention span.
But isn’t it stressfull to always have your head in the future?
Hmmmmm.... not sure. It may be it's just greed that drives me. A wish to reinvent the wheel? Or it's just about curiousity. Yeah, that sounds healthier. Let's say that; it is curiousity.
But do you always manage to realize the ideas that you have in your mind? Sometimes the contemporary world doesn't always manage to keep up to date with the futuristic brain.
No it is hard sometimes but part of the challenge is communicating with the real world – so that your work does not become an isolated utopia. If you get it right, it can both be relevant and forward looking. Unfortunately it's a challenge that is not always met in all areas.
What is it that you’re so eager to explore? The surrounding world or yourself?
Bit of both probably. I just need to feel that rawness in order to feel alive. I get claustrophobic in stagnation.
You have said it is important for you to create a positive energy with your music and creations. How come?
For me, I feel if there is a negative outcome – you didn't manage to complete the thing . You stopped half way through. Don't get me wrong, I adore dark stuff though – it is the fuel that gets you through to the end. But being only nihilistic on it's own always feels a bit teenage to me. I need more colors. I don't know if perhaps it has something to do with responsibility, some simple psychology. I have 6 younger siblings and at the end of the day, you have to get them all home in one piece. I feel if you aim for hope you get the whole scale of emotion on your way: despair, humor, sorrow, failure, optimism. If you are convinced from the start it aint gonna work out you get fewer colors. It will be less fun.
You are one of few artists who is very good at speaking about your music and relating to it in a theoretical sense. Is it important for you that your mind and emotions work together?
Thanks for the compliment! Usually I talk about my music when it is all done and wrapped up. Then it becomes an interesting process of trying to work out what actually it was all about. To be honest, it is a lot of guesswork. I drink a lot of cappucinos and then just jump into an interview and try to get through it. I don't talk about projects before I finish them – it would ruin it all. It probably comes across like I am aware of my mind while I'm making stuff. That's not the case. But time's funny like that. Like how you can read diaries years after you wrote them and you thought you were going through something endlessly complicated and later it looks so simple and obvious.
Twenty years ago you moved to London and since ten years you live in New York. Which sounds of the city do you enjoy?
It changes over time but right now I am really into wind and different angles of space between buildings: alleyways, crossroads where 3 streets meet and streets with or without hills.
Your music is very energetic. Where do you find your own energy?
From the tundra in Iceland, friends, space, music, silence, books, ocean, movies and swimming.
What do you do an ordinary day if you are Björk?
It really varies. I'm not too keen on rigid schedules. I feel too easily trapped. But the consistancies would be hanging out with my children and family. I also try to spend few hours a day outdoors. That always seems to level things nicely.
During the last couple of years, you’ve taken an active part in different environmental issues. Do you feel a responsibility to speak up?
I do actually. If I like it or not, there comes a pedestal with my job. It creates a peculiar energy, but since I have lived with the not-so-nice-side of fame I might as well use the good side for things I care about . We live in the 21st century and I feel there is an opportunity to initiate a creative relationship between technology and nature if we just want it. It wont happen by itself so we cant afford to not be bothered.
What does Iceland mean to your music? Just the fact that you had a tv-free month every summer must have done good for your creativity.
My parents didnt have a tv until I was about 10 and then it was only for 3 hours in the evenings. Every thursday and all july it was off. I feel the fact that there is so much space in iceland, it made at least my generation feel that each one of us was important . I also suspect the fact that we were a colony for 600 years, and have only been independence 66 years, made my generation the first one brought up by an independent nation. We had a lot to prove and a lot of history to write. But these are just my homemade theories, I'm sure if you ask someone else you'll get another answer alltogether.
Do you know where your next album will take you?
Yes, but I cannot talk about it. It would jinx it all. I'll talk about it, or at least give it a go, when the music is all wrapped up and ready to head out into the world.
Source: Unity/Forum of Björk's Website